Just as Japan recognized bitcoin as a legal method of payment, two of the country’s biggest retailers, Bic Camera and Recruit Lifestyle, entered partnerships with bitcoin exchanges to start accepting the cryptocurrency.
Bic Camera is a consumer chain focused on electronics. It has entered an agreement with the Tokyo-based bitcoin exchange bitFlyer and will trial bitcoin in two outlets. Consumers will be allowed to pay up to 100,000 yen ($900) using bitcoin. The reward points will be the same as for cash payments.
According to Bic Camera, the new payment option is a first for a major retailer in the nation, out of the belief that the use of the virtual currency will become more common among domestic consumers. The initiative is expected to attract more foreign tourists to use bitcoin.
The cooperation between Recruit Lifestyle, the retail branch of human resources conglomerate Recruit Holdings, and Tokyo bitcoin exchange operator Coincheck will enable more than 260,000 outlets across the country to start accepting bitcoin. The payment option with the cryptocurrency will be included into AirRegi application. Coincheck will process payments made by consumers via the app, converting bitcoins into yen and transferring the funds to the store.
Japan has all chances to take a lead in the cryptocurrency market. Nearly 4,500 Japanese stores are currently accepting bitcoin while over 700,000 outlets actively use other modes of digital payments.
Last week, Japan realized the idea of recognition bitcoin as a mainstream currency as the country passed the law that categorizes the cryptocurrency as a legal payment option within the country. The highly-anticipated law was implemented on April 1, 2017.
The step is so beneficial for the cryptocurrency market as the more people will appreciate the new option and adopt the cryptocurrency, the more widespread Bitcoin will become, which will, in turn, drive demand and price. The legal recognition of Bitcoin in Japan at once resulted in the upward movement of bitcoin – at the beginning of the week the price made up $1,136.
The bitcoin usage in Japan is expected to reach $9 billion in the next three years (2020), which is more than five times the 2015’s $1.7 billion worth of cryptocurrencies in circulation.
Kazuyuki Shiba, a Principal Economist at the Institute for International Monetary Affairs, said that China at one time accounted for more than 90 percent of bitcoin trading. Investors found the cryptocurrency so attractive as it allowed to avoid losses from a weakening yuan and the faking of transactions by Chinese exchanges to increase volume, making transactions on the exchanges more attractive.
Later, the situation changed when the Chinese monetary authority tightened its control over bitcoin exchanges, boosting the use of Japanese yen in trades.